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Catering, Vending and Cooking For The Masses. this forum is OnTopic. A resource to help with catering, vending and just cooking for large parties. Topics to include Getting Started, Ethics, Marketing, Catering resources, Formulas and recipes for cooking for large groups.


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Unread 09-29-2010, 04:20 PM   #1
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Hi Guys,

I have been seriously thinking about starting a mobile BBQ/Catering business. Ultimately I want to do it full time with the addition of fairs and festivals. My wife is afraid that I will not make enough money to support us. What do you guys average for profit at a 1 or 2 day festival? What would be reasonable daily? My idea would be to move around and be at a different location everyday. Should I keep the dream alive and get more aggressive with a business plan, selling my wife on it, getting safe serve certified etc. or should I continue being a legend in my own mind and leave it to you pros?
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Unread 09-29-2010, 04:39 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by wlfpkrcn View Post
Hi Guys,

I have been seriously thinking about starting a mobile BBQ/Catering business. Ultimately I want to do it full time with the addition of fairs and festivals. My wife is afraid that I will not make enough money to support us. What do you guys average for profit at a 1 or 2 day festival? What would be reasonable daily? My idea would be to move around and be at a different location everyday. Should I keep the dream alive and get more aggressive with a business plan, selling my wife on it, getting safe serve certified etc. or should I continue being a legend in my own mind and leave it to you pros?
Lots to do here - Mobile BBQ (Food truck type) and catering are 2 different animals, and for me, 2 different kinds of customers. First research should be done with local DEH on CA Code(s), and what your requirements will be. Here in So Cal, there is a laundry list - Serv Safe, Bus License, Gen Liab Ins, Commercial Insurance, HUD inspections (Truck or trailer), DEH inspection and permit, commissary location, etc before you ever start a fire. Next is Bus Plan and Feasibility. Next is equipment and budget. Next is how much $$ you are willing to risk. Next is long days and short nights.

There's alot I've left out, and alot I've forgotten, mostly on purpose (lol).
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Unread 09-29-2010, 04:43 PM   #3
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I think alot of guys here would tell you to do your homework first.
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Unread 09-29-2010, 04:43 PM   #4
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Getting certified and keeping your wife on board are important, but the thing to keep in mind is that festivals are a crap shoot. You will need to have a mobile rig that meets Health Dept rules/regs as well. They can get costly as you basically have a mobile kitchen. Things to keep in mind:

Attendence
Weather
Price for a space
Electricity/water availability
How many other food vendors are there?

I'm sure some others will comment soon.
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Unread 09-29-2010, 05:14 PM   #5
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I think alot of guys here would tell you to do your homework first.
Working on my homework. Part of my homework is deciding if I should drop out of school . I have not been able to find any reasonable info on what expected income might be. Unfortunately I am not independently wealthy, so it would need to profitable. If I can't prove it can be profitable, then I lose the spousal support. Without her support I won't get very far.
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Unread 09-29-2010, 05:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by wlfpkrcn View Post
Working on my homework. Part of my homework is deciding if I should drop out of school . I have not been able to find any reasonable info on what expected income might be. Unfortunately I am not independently wealthy, so it would need to profitable. If I can't prove it can be profitable, then I lose the spousal support. Without her support I won't get very far.

If you are in school stay and finish. You need to start out slow with these types of ventures and not get carried away taking on debt that you'll be stuck with. As I said before, festivals are a crap shoot. If you want to make money try starting out by catering some small event to gain repeat customers and see how that goes.
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Unread 09-29-2010, 06:09 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by getyourrubonbbq View Post
If you are in school stay and finish. You need to start out slow with these types of ventures and not get carried away taking on debt that you'll be stuck with. As I said before, festivals are a crap shoot. If you want to make money try starting out by catering some small event to gain repeat customers and see how that goes.
It was supposed to be a joke homework/school.. Sorry lame attempt No school in 20 years, maybe more of a midlife crisis.
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Unread 09-29-2010, 06:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by getyourrubonbbq View Post
If you are in school stay and finish. You need to start out slow with these types of ventures and not get carried away taking on debt that you'll be stuck with. As I said before, festivals are a crap shoot. If you want to make money try starting out by catering some small event to gain repeat customers and see how that goes.
That's wisdom!
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Unread 09-29-2010, 06:10 PM   #9
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You can find some business plans on line for free and pay. It would be a good start to work backward and see how much you need to make and then find out how much you would need to sell at a profit to fit that income.

I'm having the same dream but income from 9-5 is hard to give up.
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Unread 09-29-2010, 06:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wlfpkrcn View Post
It was supposed to be a joke homework/school.. Sorry lame attempt No school in 20 years, maybe more of a midlife crisis.
By the post I thought you were a young man trying to strike it rich Anyway, take this slow and think of who your customer base will be and where. Focus on a simple menu and don't go overboard with it. When you get ready give me a shout and I'll build you the finest catering/concession trailer you'll ever own Good luck to you and always trust your gut and your wife, she's your best friend and business partner in a venture like this.
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Unread 09-29-2010, 07:30 PM   #11
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When you get ready give me a shout and I'll build you the finest catering/concession trailer you'll ever own
I looked at your site you do some sweet looking trailers!
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Unread 09-30-2010, 09:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wlfpkrcn View Post
Working on my homework. Part of my homework is deciding if I should drop out of school . I have not been able to find any reasonable info on what expected income might be. Unfortunately I am not independently wealthy, so it would need to profitable. If I can't prove it can be profitable, then I lose the spousal support. Without her support I won't get very far.
I've posted this before on this forum but here goes again.

1 - plan to lose or break even in the first year - that means you really don't put any money to mortgage, groceries, etc.

2 - it cost me about $35k to get the rig I have with all the stuff the HD likes for vending plus 3 FEC100s.

3 - You will make some money in the second year but nto enough to support the family without some outside help from the spouse.

4 - No more weekends. You will work pretty much all of them especially holidays. And there's a lot of work during the week getting ready for a 2 or 3 day weekend festival. And on those weekends you can work long hours. For example this weekend I already have the meat except ribs cooked and just need to reheat. I am shopping for all the other stuff today and loading it. Will setup at 8 am tomorrow start cooking by noon and will vend until 11:30 or midnight. I need to be back onsite before 7 am Saturday to start ribs for lunch and will vend from noon until midnight. Then I will sleep and get up and pick up the trailer by 8 am Sunday and have everything cleaned by noon. So it's over a 40 hour work week just there.

The above is based on personal experience. At a good weekend festival with the right equipment with 1 helper I can sell up to $4500 and clear $3k. If the weather goes south like this weekend now with a high of 53F I don't know how popular the beer tent will be. I have scaled back some and decided on my risk point. It's such a difficult business and there's no security. You can't count on every weekend or even every other weekend being good. Catering is a lot safer but there's a lot of work there and usually less return.

If your wife is not in it with full support then don't do it.
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Unread 09-30-2010, 12:14 PM   #13
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Great advice from Ford.

I would try setting up the catering route first. Most times you can rent catering gear if it's not in your budget to buy. Our first chaffing dishes were on loan from our local pub, tables were borrowed from work and table cloths from a local hotel. Our flowers for the table setting were from the florist next door as the event was on a Sunday and these were flowers she couldn't sell during the week.Can you say DEEEEEEP discount? :D

Line up a nice catering gig for a taste of what Ford's talking about for a taste of the game. Yes vending is another bird but at least you get the flavour for the planning and stress levels without buying big cookers and trailers right out the gate.

If momma isn't behind you then you are already suffering a loss, she's the one that keeps your head straight when you need it most AND controls the cash flow. We .... I am prone to throw everything at a project so her keeping the boks straight has helped tremendously.
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Unread 09-30-2010, 12:58 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ford View Post
I've posted this before on this forum but here goes again.

1 - plan to lose or break even in the first year - that means you really don't put any money to mortgage, groceries, etc.

2 - it cost me about $35k to get the rig I have with all the stuff the HD likes for vending plus 3 FEC100s.

3 - You will make some money in the second year but nto enough to support the family without some outside help from the spouse.

4 - No more weekends. You will work pretty much all of them especially holidays. And there's a lot of work during the week getting ready for a 2 or 3 day weekend festival. And on those weekends you can work long hours. For example this weekend I already have the meat except ribs cooked and just need to reheat. I am shopping for all the other stuff today and loading it. Will setup at 8 am tomorrow start cooking by noon and will vend until 11:30 or midnight. I need to be back onsite before 7 am Saturday to start ribs for lunch and will vend from noon until midnight. Then I will sleep and get up and pick up the trailer by 8 am Sunday and have everything cleaned by noon. So it's over a 40 hour work week just there.

The above is based on personal experience. At a good weekend festival with the right equipment with 1 helper I can sell up to $4500 and clear $3k. If the weather goes south like this weekend now with a high of 53F I don't know how popular the beer tent will be. I have scaled back some and decided on my risk point. It's such a difficult business and there's no security. You can't count on every weekend or even every other weekend being good. Catering is a lot safer but there's a lot of work there and usually less return.

If your wife is not in it with full support then don't do it.
Thanks Ford! That's what I was looking for!
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Unread 09-30-2010, 01:00 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by wlfpkrcn View Post
Thanks Ford! That's what I was looking for!

Remember .. your mileage may vary.
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